Explain: What Is A "Broadway" Show?

So, everyone says “it’s a Broadway show”, but what does this mean? Where did it originate…Radio City Music Hall, perhaps? Us outsiders see this as a place for chorus girls, only.

So, what is meant by a “Broadway” play, and “off-Broadway”, for that matter?

  • Jinx

As far as I know, the most prestigious, mainstream shows opened in the prestigious theatres on Broadway; the less prestigious (and more avant-garde, less commercial, more experimental, more racy, etc.) didn’t.

Broadway shows are those shows in New York City which are performed in midtown theaters (on or near Broadway) which seat 500 or more people. There are currently 39 such venues and the shows therein pay the highest union rates to all the performers and technicians. “Off-Broadway” is officially defined as 100-400 seats, and may or may not actually be on Broadway. They are also unionized and pay less than Broadway shows. “Off-Off-Broadway” shows are everything else, and often not professional productions, and definitely not unionized.

Broadway is a street. That may be something that the OP didn’t realise.

I always figured that Off-Broadway refers to the streets that cross Broadway. And that Off-off-Broadway are those streets parallel to Broadway (they cross the Off-Broadway streets). Judging by a cursory bit of Googling, though, that may not actually be true.

Close. Off-Bway plays up to 499 seats. If a theatre has more than 500 seats, it is considered a Broadway house.

Actually Radio City is not considered a Broadway house. It’s more of a concert hall than a theater, they don’t do your typical musicals or plays. They don’t fall under the normal Broadway union contracts. Not to mention it’s (to quote my wife) “the barn of all barns” over three times the size of the biggest Broadway theater. They could, theoretically, house a Broadway show under a special arrangement.

The League of American Theaters and Producers puts on Broadway shows and tours of Broadway shows.

Most “Broadway” theatres are on the cross-streets. I think only 3 or 4 are actually on Broadway (the street). Poster friedo’s assessment is correct; it has to do with the seating capacity, not geographic location.

There used to be many more theatres on Broadway than there are today. Much longer ago the area around Union Square (14th street) was the theatre district rather than Times Square (42nd).

o/ I went away from the lights of 14th Street, and into my personal haze. But now that I'm back in the lights of 14th Street tomorrow will be brighter than the good old days... o/

When Broadway shows move to L.A., they usually play in one of the big theatres down here (the Wilshire, the Pantages, etc.)

If you saw a show there, you’d usually say “I saw a Broadway show, but I saw it in L.A., not on Broadway.” It’s the same show, same sets, same music, but often a different cast, of about the same caliber.

Ah…but, when your show is over, you can’t walk over to Times Square.

Nobody walks in LA!